Perhaps you have been assigned a comparative essay
in class, or need to write a comprehensive comparative
report for work. In order to write a stellar comparative
essay, you have to start off by picking two subjects that
have enough similarities and differences to be
compared in a meaningful way, such as two sports
teams or two systems of government.
Once you have that, then you have to find at least two
or three points of comparison and use research, facts,
and well-organized paragraphs to impress and
captivate your readers. Writing the comparative essay
is an important skill that you will use many times
throughout your scholastic career.
You may have a great idea for a paper in your
head, but if it doesn't perfectly match the
prompt, you will lose points. Look over the
prompt (and rubric, if you have one) carefully
and underline key phrases. Keep a list of these
things by you as you work.
What are the limits on your topic?
What specific things is the teacher hoping to
see from your work?
Although you want to have a thorough
understanding of both things being compared,
it’s important not to provide more details than
the assignment can handle.
Compare a few aspects of each topic instead of
trying to cover both topics comprehensively.
No, really. Though you may have been taught to sit down and
write your paper from start to finish, this is not only harder, but
also more likely to make your thoughts disjointed. Try this
Body paragraphs first. Work through all that information you've been
compiling and see what kind of story it tells you. Only when you've
worked with your data will you know what the larger point of the
Conclusion second. Now that you've done all the heavy lifting, the
point of your essay should be fresh in your mind. Strike while the
Intro last. This is basically a reorganizing/rephrasing of your
conclusion. Make sure you don’t reuse the exact same words/phrases.
The first sentence of a body paragraph (often
called the topic sentence) prepares the reader for
what you’ll be covering in that paragraph, the
middle of the paragraph presents the information
you've gathered, and the last sentence draws a
low-level conclusion based on that information.
Be careful not to overstep the bounds of the
paragraph by making a much larger point about
your two topics; that’s the job of the conclusion
When the essay’s done, the reader should feel like (s)he
learned something and know that the essay is done,
not be looking around for missing pages.
The conclusion should open by giving a brief, general
summary of the points you covered in the body
paragraphs, then draw a larger conclusion about your
two subjects. (Be careful to base your conclusion in the
data and not your personal preferences, especially if
your essay prompt has instructed you to keep a neutral
The last sentence of the essay should leave the reader
feeling that all the different threads of the essay have
been drawn together in a cohesive way.